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4 Steps to Building an Art Collection

The other day, a new-ish client at an auction asked, “How do I start an art collection?”

I realized this is not the first time I’ve been asked this question. It’s not even the hundredth time this has been asked. Many people feel intimidated by the idea of collecting art. What if I pick the wrong style or artist or subject?

Looking at Art Collection (Save Ferris)The short answer is: there is no such thing as the wrong way to start. There is no wrong way to collect. Art is personal. So long as you are happy, you’re on the right path. The only real misstep is not starting at all.

Here are 4 rules of thumb to keep in  mind:

  1. Be yourself

I myself am a maximalist. I believe in having the things I love on display so I can enjoy them every day. A riot of pieces from my travels surround me every day. Porcelain from China, framed textiles from Texas, silver Judaica from Israel, cameos from the Niagara region, paper sculptures from India, and on. My personal space is a museum exhibition curated by me. A story of my life. The same goes for artwork. If you pick artwork you love – that means something to you – you’ll never get bored of seeing it. In fact, you’ll appreciate the constant reminders of joy your art collection can bring.

Our auctions a great way to explore works by tons of different artists and find your perfect piece. Whether it’s an abstract painting or a bronze sculpture – you’ll find something that strikes a chord in you. Also check out local art fairs, gallery exhibitions, museums, or countless online sites. Look for colors or themes or subjects that connect with you.

  1. Be playful

Creating a salon-like arrangement or gallery wall will always look great. But don’t be afraid to shake things up. I was in a NYC apartment and noticed that someone had hung 4 little art pieces over the door frame of the study. I thought this was a really great steal-worthy idea. It took the eye up, making the walls of this tiny office look taller and the room grander.

Look for pieces you can use in unexpected places in your home. Think of unexpected rooms. And don’t confine yourself to walls. An art collection need not be collected in one area. Spread it out. On walls, on tables, on the floor, on doors, on shelves. Limit yourself only by your imagination.

  1. Be confident

I have never been one to follow trends. I follow my gut. From that I have developed a distinctive style that is truly and uniquely my own. All the artwork I have hanging in my home or propped up on a table in my office are things I love – that’s the key.

Don’t give yourself boundaries. The more limitations you apply, the more boring the space. When it comes to collecting art for yourself, anything goes.

Art should complement your decor through color, shape, or line but it will need to stand out and not just blend in. I tend to go for large conversation-causing statement pieces in the entertaining areas of my home and softer, subtler pieces in the more private areas of my home.

Never be afraid of putting yourself on display with your art collection.

  1. Be honest

Don’t let yourself feel pressured to buy art. Take your time. Getting to know what you like requires some research, so join gallery mailing lists and visit museums and galleries in person or online. These things will help you define what appeals to you. Your art collection should thrill you every single day and be something you will keep to the end of time. Just because everybody around you is fawning over the most recent work by that blind monk who paints turtle shells with his toes, doesn’t mean you must.

If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you.

Whether you go for one single haunting image or a whole motley assortment of seascapes in  different frames, follow your heart and let it embellish your walls. An eclectic assemblage of art – from drawings to prints – will create a unique dialogue in which everyone will see you.

In the end, this is about you. Your art collection should reflect you. Buying art to impress others will never satisfy you. Satisfy yourself.